Few films get more British than the rom-com Four Weddings and a Funeral released in 1994. But did you know that the whole film took just 6 weeks to make and cost less than £3 million! Written by Richard Curtis, it tells the story of a group of tight-knit friends and their quest to find love. And whilst you may think that the story line takes us all over the UK with its various locations, it was filmed in and around London….and I’ve been to two of the churches.
It’s at the first wedding where we meet the rather socially awkward Charles (played by Hugh Grant) who becomes infatuated with mysterious American lady Carrie (played by Andie McDowell). Whilst the invitation to Angus and Laura’s wedding suggests that it takes place in Somerset, it was actually filmed at St. Michael’s Church in Betchworth, Surrey, just a couple of miles west of Reigate. I was going to visit the church last week as it’s only about 30 minutes from where I live but work plans changed. However, I did visit the church many years ago where, very sadly, I went to the funeral of a close friend but I remember her telling me when she first moved into Betchworth how the church had been used in the film, causing much excitement amongst the villagers!
It’s at the wedding of Bernard and Lydia when Charles again sees Carrie but, this time, she’s with her politician fiancé , Sir Hamish Banks. This wedding has one of my favourite scenes were Charles ends up on the same table as many of his ex-girlfriends who all seem to have to embarrassing stories to tell about him. It’s also at this wedding where Charles meets Henrietta (Anna Chancellor) who is rather meanly known as Duckface to Charles’ friends. Rather than the wedding taking place in Cripplegate, it was actually filmed at the beautiful Old Royal Naval College Chapel in south east London and it’s open to the public. Definitely worth a trip as you’ll also find it by the Cutty Sark and in the grounds of the Royal Naval College which have been used in many films such as Les Misérables and Gulliver’s Travels.
This wedding gives the impression of being very Scottish with guests invited to ‘Glenthrist Castle, Perthshire’ but, again, it’s not far from London. It was filmed at Albury Park Mansion, a grade II listed property close to Guildford Surrey that has been converted into luxury apartments. And it’s at this wedding of Carrie and Hamish where patriarch to the group of friends, Gareth (played by Simon Callow), collapses from a heart attack whilst Hamish gives his speech.
Gareth’s funeral takes place at St. Clement’s Church in West Thurrock that saw an end to its regular congregations in 1977 after it fell into disrepair with the cold and damp setting in. However, 10 years later, the firm Proctor and Gamble restored the building and the outside was used for exterior shots for the film.
Finally, it’s Charles’ turn to get married and he intends to marry Henrietta despite his real love for Carrie. However, just before the wedding, Carrie breaks the news about how she and Hamish have separated and with this news, Charles cannot bring himself to say the words ‘I do’ when the time comes, prompting a slap in the face from Henrietta! And it’s this filming location that I went to on Friday, St. Bartholomew the Great, London. As well as Four Weddings and a Funeral, it’s provided a backdrop to plenty of other films too like Shakespeare in Love, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the 2009 version of Sherlock Holmes. The inside is, well, magical and I can’t recommend a visit to here highly enough.
Of course, there’s more to the film than just the weddings and funeral as there are some wonderful locations for wedding receptions (like Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire) and ‘The Jolly Boatman Inn’ (which is actually The Crown in Amersham, Buckinghamshire).
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about one more film and how I saw a very special ‘blue door’ in London on Friday!
Non-film news: I’ve added something to my bucketlist. The England netball team won the Commonwealth gold medal beating the Australians, who had been the favourites to win. I absolutely loved netball as a teenager and was lucky enough to captain my school team. I didn’t get to the 2012 Olympic Games so with the next Commonwealth Games taking place in Birmingham, I can’t wait to see the team play and soak up the atmosphere of a home games!
Right, folks, some report writing for work beckons but I hope you’re all having a good Sunday